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Bearing potted marijuana plants and a banner declaring support for “Land and Liberty of Marijuana,” a group of Mexican farmers from Tetecala, Morelos turned in a petition to a government health agency, seeking to become the country’s first “cannabis town.” 

Tetecala is an area historically known for its sugarcane agriculture, but the crop’s prices have plummeted in recent decades. 

Hoping to find a way to keep the area financially solvent, the farmers asked the government for permission to cultivate marijuana for recreational, medicinal, and industrial purposes. In addition to the potential profits from selling these crops, Mexican news site Aristegui Noticias reports that they also expressed interest in converting their town into a cannabis tourist attraction.

“By soliciting the license for the cultivation of marijuana, we are looking to change the trajectory of our town, which for more than 30 years has been affected by poor management [by authorities], corruption, and violence,” said Alejandro Vello Arellano, the president of the Civil Association of the United Towns of the Southern State of Morelos [in Spanish, the Asociación Civil Pueblos Unidos del Sur del Estado de Morelos.] “We want to be the first cannabis town in all of Mexico.”

The request is a complex one. Regulations surrounding the production of medicinal marijuana in Mexico are prohibitive for small-scale farmers. Commercial cannabis production for recreational uses has yet to be legalized, though many marijuana advocates are hoping that lawmakers will address the formation of a legal industry in the next legislative session, which begins next month. 

The Mexican Supreme Court banned absolute prohibition of recreational cannabis consumption and personal cultivation in June. Citizens are now allowed to apply for permission to grow and consume their own weed from a federal health agency. Commercial production and sale are still not allowed, however.

These legal fine points are of seemingly little concern for the Morelos farmers, several of whom were observed smoking joints while waiting for authorities to receive their official request. In their eyes, the request is about Mexico assuming its proper position in the booming global cannabis community. The country has always been a cannabis producer, but the plant’s production is largely controlled by its powerful organized crime networks.

The group of agriculture workers addressed their letter to the state’s secretary of health Marco Antonio Cantú Cuevas, and turned it into the Cuernavaca offices of the Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks [Comisión para la Protección Contra Riesgos Sanitarios, or COPRIS.]

Tetecala is a town of fewer than 7,000 people in the central Mexican state of Morelos. The group’s petition assured authorities that granting the group permission to cultivate cannabis would positively impact 10,000 individuals, including farming families from the neighboring towns of Coatlán del Río, Mazatepec, and Miacatlán.

Vello told Mexican publication El Financiero that among the products the town hopes to produce is cannabis-infused pastries, including traditional corn flour cakes known as tlaxcales, and alcohol.